The first time I discovered the white space, I was four. It happened on one of the nights when my older sister Elene and I stayed at my grandma's. I remember how much we loved spending time in her house, - there were so many secret corners, so many rooms to hide in, and so many antiques to play with while she was watching soap operas on TV.
We could explore the entire house while she was busy, every single corner, except her bedroom. Her room though was always closed for us; the door, covered with thick velvet curtain, looked intimidating but yet intriguing, and the only time we were allowed to enter it was if we spent a night in her house, and sleep in her bed.
After the death of my grandfather, she slept all alone. She would lay on one end of their grand bed, fearing that if she somehow crossed "his side", she'd discover how lonely she was. I thought that was why she liked to keep us in her bedroom when we stayed over, to replace the emptiness with us.
Grandma never went to bed without a long pre-midnight phone call with her friend. Her friend, who lived just a block away, would update her with all kinds of political news and gossip, and this conversation was usually followed up by the latest developments in soap operas. Little did grandma know that her high voice travelled all the way to the end of the house in her bedroom and didn't allow us to sleep. We laid in bed, and we talked, talked, talked. Then we'd get bored and start inventing games.
On one of those nights Elene crawled in a square opening in her duvet cover and called me. I saw her getting into the sheet, lifting the duvet and crawling under it, and although it seemed like there was no space for me, she insisted that I followed. So I did. I crawled into the square opening with lace contour around it, lifted the heavy woolen duvet just like her, and laid down on the side to roll under it, but there was no need for rolling - as I put my head under the duvet, the space started expanding, and Elene, who was rolled like an embryo before, now had enough room to get up, stretch her legs and make the first steps into a beautiful cave-alike soft structure. I got up too and followed her.
The glowing white canyons narrowed and expanded; we started chasing each-other, and chasing the light illuminating the walls. Everything was smooth and velvety, my feet sometimes went deep into the ground, and sometimes they slipped on the unexpected silky surfaces. We slid and rolled, jumped and ran, played peekaboo...
Suddenly I lost her. I stood in a space much larger than us, even larger than the cathedral where our parents used to take us on weekends... it was magical. Vast, open, white, soft, cloud-like, glowing... I started wandering around, I felt safe and nested, no need to find a way back, no need to look for Elene anymore... I could hear her voice being absorbed by the folds and curves of soft walls, slowly becoming distant, but I didn't feel the rush to call back...
"Oh, look at that, it's almost midnight!" - grandma's strong voice shook the walls of my temple, - "alright, honey, it was so great to catch up with you, but I have to go to bed now... aaah, yeeees, ha ha haa" - I could feel the ground trembling under my feet. Everything started shrinking. SHE SHOULDN'T FIND OUT ABOUT OUR SECRET SPACE! - I thought and started running after the brightest end. The walls were getting heavier, and darker...
... I could see Elene's foot on distance. Then her figure started shaping. WE ARE SAFE! I followed.
The door opened. Grandma checked on her girls sleeping. Then she turned on the bedside lamp and looked around for her nightgown. The lamp casted her shadow at my pillow. I watched her large figure changing... then I felt her weight on the bed... The soft yellow light was replaced by the playful blue one from TV. Voice of a man invaded the room. He was narrating a car accident on Mtkvari River. Three people died...
I could hear my grandma's breath getting deeper and deeper, and the silences between the sound of her old lungs being filled with short and low ones of Elene. Inhale.... exhale... inhale... exhale...
... My eyes were heavy, it was slowly getting dark...
... I found myself wandering in a soft white cave. In the distance Elene sang about fans and butterflies...
I had this memory chasing me for a long time; finally, in December I started illustrating it, but I was struggling with materializing the cloud-like space I remembered. A week ago I found two beautiful photos on my friend Lucy's Instagram (@lluontheloose) and with her permission I used them as the space from my childhood. Thank you, Lucy!
Oh, and this is not the collaboration with Lucy that I mentioned before.
Oh, oh, and please forgive if you find some terrible grammar mistakes.
The past month and a half has been pretty busy over here, with nights slowly getting shorter and shorter, and ideas shaping every hour. My friend Lucy Peng (I've mentioned her several times before, mostly about Shoebox Circle) and I decided to collaborate on a very interesting competition; I can't tell you much yet until the winners are announced, but I can definitely say that I haven't enjoyed working with someone as much as I did with her - a true collaboration, both of us highly involved in all stages, and super critical about ours and each-other's work, and I believe that the results are wonderful. We joke about how obsessed we are with our own work, but we are truly impressed by the quality of results of this union.
The process was so rewarding that the results of the competition became kind of irrelevant; however, we are very curious to see what other people came up with, and what they have to say about our creation.
And finally, we are having hard times being patient and not sharing the work with you - until March, stay tuned.
- Meanwhile, check out Lucy's beautiful work on her IG @lluonthelloose -
Last week a friend asked to design a tattoo for him - he wants to have my drawing permanently inked on his arm, which is a great honor, but a pretty big responsibility at the same time, ha!
Anyway, he asked me to draw his little daughter as a witch. Below is the first try; I'm trying to avoid the witch hats and common accessories; now have to make her look like the girl. Will keep you posted!
Last night I stumbled upon a photo in maaah archive.
During my last semester at IIT College of Architecture I was lucky to attend a meeting with students with the great Wang Shu, the founder of Amateur Architecture Studio and the first Chinese citizen to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The meeting with this beautiful man was held in S.R. Crown Hall; we were given an opportunity to ask questions and be flooded with his oriental wisdom.
After the meeting I finally built up courage to get his autograph in my sketchbook and he signed on the photo of Ningbo Museum which I had in there as an inspiration for my Masters Thesis project 'Seedarium'. He saw a tiny part of my sketch on the side and complemented on the drawing. I was so so proud, he made my month!